The Anti-Cancer Diet: 15 Foods That May Reduce Your Cancer Risk
It’s dinner time, and mom served you steamed broccoli in a bright green bowl. It’s either you say “Yum!” or “Nah!” But as you already know, broccoli is beneficial for you, especially when it isn’t full of melted cheese. How excellent is it, exactly? And, more importantly, can it – or any meal – help to prevent diseases like cancer?
Yes, some foods have cancer-fighting capabilities, yet no one can state with certainty that one item can block or stop cancer in its tracks. Nonetheless, a growing body of evidence suggests that a balanced diet rich in colored fruits and vegetables is the route to avoiding heart disease, diabetes, and potentially cancer.
What are Cancer-Fighting Foods?
Plant foods high in phytochemicals, also known as phytonutrients, are frequently found on lists of “cancer-fighting foods.” Phytochemicals are plant-based molecules that can aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer. It is always better to know which foods you can eat to avoid cancer than to learn which foods you can only cook when you have the condition.
Many people are curious about whether dietary choices can help prevent or reduce the progression of cancer. A fantastic place to start is by eating a wide variety of plant foods. Hundreds of health-promoting phytochemicals are present in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that you won’t find in a nutritional supplement.
So, which foods should you consume to offer your body the best chance of avoiding cancer? While there’s no assurance that you’ll live a cancer-free life, replacing fried foods, processed meats, and sugary snacks with these 15 foods is an excellent place to start.
Broccoli was probably not your favorite dinner side when you were a kid, but because your palette has likely developed since then, we’ll let you in on it. Glucosinolates are compounds found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. It produces protective enzymes when you chew the raw vegetable, rupturing the cell walls.
Popeye has taught us a valuable lesson when it comes to leafy vegetables. Carotenoids are abundant in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, and other green leafy vegetables. These antioxidant chemicals have been shown in lab experiments to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Who knew garlic breath might be beneficial to your health? Sulfur chemicals that cause odor may also prevent cancer-causing substances from developing in your body, expedite DNA repair, and destroy cancer cells. Garlic and other members of the allium family of foods may help to prevent stomach and colorectal cancer.
From spaghetti sauce to ketchup and cocktail mixers, tomatoes have provided us with some of our favorite pantry staples. However, did you know that tomatoes can also help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women? Tomatoes’ crimson color makes them difficult to resist when they’re ripe and delicious — and makes them a possible weapon against prostate cancer and heart disease. The red color originates from a phytochemical called lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in abundance in tomatoes.
Carrots are one of the veggies to love. Why not? They are high in disease-fighting nutrients. They contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may protect cell membranes from toxin damage and decrease cancer cell growth. Carrots also include vitamins and phytochemicals to protect against breast, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, and stomach cancers.
Berries gather disease-fighting honors in the same way children collect prizes in sports: they keep increasing. According to research, berries may be protective against heart disease, memory loss, and cancer. In a recent study, berry extracts aid in reducing the growth of cancer cells, with strawberry and black raspberry extracts having the highest effect on colon cancer cells.
Remember this the next time you walk up to the deli counter: bland white bread can’t compete in taste or nutrition with hearty whole wheat. Maybe you’ve heard about the new federal dietary standards that say half of the grains you eat should be whole grains, including rice, cereal, and even chips. That’s why whole-grain components are present in even sugary children’s cereals and frozen pizzas.
You get the health advantages of soybeans whether you eat tofu, miso, tempeh, edamame, or soy milk. Estrogen-like isoflavones like genistein and daidzein are abundant in soy meals. Soy meals may protect against hormone-related malignancies such as breast, prostate, and endometrial cancers.
These heart-shaped nuts can help combat not only fatty food cravings but also cancer cells. Walnuts include gamma tocopherols, a vitamin that inhibits the activation of Akt—a cancer-promoting enzyme—without damaging non-cancerous cells. Not only that, but phytosterols in these creamy nuts can assist men and women manage estrogen levels and limit the growth of breast cancer cells by blocking estrogen receptors.
Curcumin, the root spice’s primary antioxidant polyphenol, is also high in chemopreventive qualities. According to studies, Curcumin helps prevent the growth of breast cancer cells. There’s no better time to raise a glass to a turmeric latte than now.
We must get omega-3 fatty acids from food or supplements because our systems are incapable of producing them. To get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, aim for two meals of fatty fish each week to maximize the potential health advantages of these nutrients. There’s even more good news: you don’t have to include salmon on your menu all of the time to get the benefits. Sardines, mackerel, cod, and anchovies are among the omega-3-rich fish.
You’ve undoubtedly increased your intake of high fiber meals because they help you feel fuller, allowing you to eat less and lose weight. We now know that some meals can also help you lower your breast cancer risk. According to experts, Fiber helps reduce high estrogen levels in the blood, which they link to the development of breast cancer.
Polyphenols, which are antioxidants with anti-breast cancer characteristics, are abundant in tea. Just stay away from the bottled stuff and create your own at home. To get the same amount of polyphenols as one home-brewed mug of tea, you’d have to drink 20 bottles of mass-market, ready-made tea.
Another reason to peel an orange during snack time is this: Chemopreventive qualities abound in this vibrant fruit. Studies show that eating a lot of citrus fruits can lower your risk of breast cancer.
Remember how cauliflower contains cancer-fighting indoles and isothiocyanates? Cabbage, on the other hand, includes a lot of these compounds. Do you have no idea how to cook this versatile vegetable? Combine it with salads or use it in Asian-inspired noodle recipes to get creative in the kitchen.
The Bottom Line
As more learning comes to light, it is evident that your food might significantly impact your cancer risk. Although you won’t eliminate your cancer risk by eating certain foods entirely, sticking to a plant-based diet and maintaining a healthy weight will go a long way toward lowering your risk.
Last but not least: Aim to fill two-thirds of each plate with veggies, fruits, and healthy grains before you go to the supermarket. It’s a good bet that a healthy lifestyle combined with a diet rich in whole foods can improve many areas of your health.